starting and ending in the front room on the Tottenham Riviera

sometimes you gotta pack up all your stuff

The trip to London is like a huge chunk of molten ore from which I’ll be mining blogposts for a long time to come. Were I to show you my itinerary, you’d be astounded at how much I packed into such a short trip. Big ups to @elaine4queen for meditation-related help and conversations of the highest order.

I got some business taken care of, and there’s big news on that front when it’s more concrete. Don’t count chickens before they’re scratched, or whatever. And I met Robert Godden, who’s also known as The Devotea in teablogging circles. That was an event. To say the least. Here’s a document of that auspicious occasion:

Whatchyou talkin’ ’bout Robert?

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Robert either online or in person, you know that he’s passionate and just the other side of sane. It’s one of the myriad of reasons we get along. I also met the infamous Lady Devotea, but was sworn to not publish the photos I took of her. Perhaps once she sees the way I respectfully portrayed her gent, she’ll relent. But until then, I must respect her wishes.

Then, I was introduced to Bloom Tea, which I’ve already mentioned over on the teablog, but bears repeating here. They have five different blends for different times of the day. It’s a clever way to sell tea, so I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this brand in the near future. Here’s a photo of the sample I was given:

the five phases of Bloom Tea

The mornings in London were exactly like they are back here in Germany for me. I get up relatively early, so I can plan my day properly. It means that when others get out of bed, I’ve already been at it for several hours. It’s all rather disconcerting if you think about it. Because I know my level of energy can be a bit off-putting, I attempt to tone it down as best I can – with varying results.

afternoon tea with some of my favourite people who I’d not previously met

Finally, I’d like to share one of the best photos of last weekend. It’s got some wonderful characters in it, innit? I’ll not bother listing them all, although I should at least make a passing reference to a certain Vic Darkwood, who you’ll see on the far right of the shot. Purportedly, he’s an artist of some renown.

I’m just glad to say we now know each other on twitter. I hope when he gains international fame and glory, that he remembers us little people.

Like I’ve said, I’m sure this isn’t my last London-themed blogpost. There’s tonnes more to tell.

 

a bluer moon

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Super Moon on the Costa del Sol back in May

When I was a kid, I loved the moon. Not sure why I was always so drawn to it. I remember being very small and waiting at the bus stop in winter and looking up at the moon with wonder and awe.

One of my favourite summers when I was a younger man was the summer of 1996. I spent the summer playing at the Aspen Music Festival, studying with musicians Bil Jackson and Dennis Smylie, and working part-time at the Stew Pot in Snowmass Village, which is less than half an hour up the road from Aspen.

Why did I love that summer so much? Although I can give many halfway decent answers, I’m going to have to blame it on the Blue Moon. When you have two full moons in one month, the second is a Blue Moon.

There were many good things that happened then, as well as many frustrating and overwhelming ones. One memory comes to me again and again. It was the end of August. We’d had a fantastic Summer Season, in which we played some masterpieces of the symphonic literature. It was all winding down, and most of the musicians had said their goodbyes.

It was bittersweet. A part of me knew that we’d shared something magical that summer. I was driving down a deserted mountain road outside of Aspen, and Neil Young’s song ‘Harvest Moon’ came on my radio. In that moment that the song’s opening guitar sounded, the Blue Moon
appeared from behind one of the mountains.

For a split second, everything was just alright with me and the world. I can count on one hand the number of times that’s happened in my life.

We have another Blue Moon this month. Tonight’s the first one. Then later in August, the Bluest of Moons is on its way. I can’t guarantee anything, but I get a good feeling about the whole thing. That the Blue Moon here in 2012 might be the best one yet.

‘Come a little bit closer/hear what I have to say.
Just like children sleeping/We could dream this night away…’

keep dreaming on

stairs going up and down

Although I’m not a book blogger, I know quite a few of those people and read them with relish. The thing is that I love reading and really enjoy pulling my favourite parts out of books, but I rarely feel I do a book justice when I try to review it. I suppose I could do it if I planned a bit better, or practiced assembling a thorough and insightful approach to the works I’d read. That’s certainly an option.

So much of my daily life consists of  time management and prioritising that I’d rather let this platform be where I go a bit more free-form. It seems to be working thus far. I truly enjoy the positive feedback about what I do here. Please keep it coming. The more you stroke my ego, the more likely I am to continue creating this content. It’s all on you.

Recently, a group of us read Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos, and try as I might, I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about it here. I was knee-deep in pre World War I euphoria and the hypocrisy of Prohibition, but I just didn’t know where to start describing my related thoughts.

then I was flipping through my copy of the book, and I came upon a thought. I’d simply share one of my favourite passages. Not try to encapsulate the whole work – just a brief moment in time.

Jimmy has just had a serious talk with his uncle about his future. It’s one of those ‘Ok, you’ve enjoyed yourself up to now, but now it’s time to buckle down to real life‘ sort of conversations, and afterward Jimmy’s a bit disoriented. I’ll let the writer take it from there:

‘His stomach turns a somersault with the drop of the elevator. He steps out into the crowded marble hall. For a moment not knowing which way to go, he stands back against the wall with his hands in his pockets, watching people elbow their way through the perpetually revolving doors; softcheeked girls chewing gum, hatchetfaced girls with bangs, creamfaced boys his own age, young toughs with their hats on one side, sweatyfaced messengers, crisscross glances, sauntering hips, red jowels masticating cigars, sallow concave faces, flat bodies of young men and women, paunched bodies of elderly men, all elbowing, shoving, shuffling, fed into two endless tapes through the revolving doors out into Broadway, in off Broadway. Jimmy fed in a tape in and out the revolving doors, noon and night and morning, the revolving doors grinding out his years like sausage meat. All of a sudden his muscles stiffen. Uncle Jeff and his office can go plumb to hell. The words are so loud inside him he glances to one side and the other to see if anyone heard him say that.’

Can you see why I like that? It’s this kid facing cold, hard reality and saying, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore,‘ which is what Howard Beale says in the 1976 film Network. But Howard Beale was saying that at the tail end of a career in broadcasting, and young Jimmy comes to the realisation right at the outset of his working life.

Look, I know how important it is to be reliable and responsible. It’s a part of maturity to not just stand up and say whatever the hell comes into your mind. I get that. Yet it’s good for me to remember that I’m not merely a slab of meat to be squeezed into tubes of sausage.

Sometimes life is but a dream. And me? My plan is to keep dreaming on.